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Friend of Tortoise Exclusive

Tortoise Lates: Power and the Press

Tortoise Lates: Power and the Press

This event is exclusive to Friends of Tortoise

editor and invited experts

James Harding
Co-founder and Editor

Liz Moseley

Matthew d’Ancona

Alastair Campbell
Writer, former British spokesman, press secretary, director of communications and strategy

Phil Collins
British journalist & Speechwriter

Sam McAlister
Newsnight producer, speaker & author

An evening of conversation, ideas and entertainment, new and exclusively for Tortoise members. 

Tortoise Lates: Power and the Press edition will be an evening of conversations exploring the interplay of power, politics and the press. Hear untold war stories, behind-the-scenes gossip and insightful revelations from inside the “dark arts” of reputation management and political communications. 

The evening starts with the speechwriter who put words into the mouths of some of our most celebrated politicians, the master negotiator who landed Prince Andrew’s “Woking Pizza Express” interview, and arguably the most influential modern political communications strategist of them all. 


Session 1 – The Art of Speechcraft

With Phil Collins and Matt d’Ancona

Mark Twain is believed to have said that the best impromptu speeches take more than three weeks to prepare. And the past few weeks has been a busy time for landmark speeches – the old prime minister, the new prime minister and the new monarch. How are these historic speeches, that will be watched, rewatched and analysed for decades to come, crafted? 

Master speechwriter Phil Collins – who has written for Tony Blair and Keir Starmer – takes us inside his process to reveal the message inside the rhetoric. We’ll hear stories of great speeches mangled by poor delivery, what makes a great soundbite, and how to say something without actually saying it. 

Session 2 –  Inside the Big Interview

With Sam McAlister and Liz Moseley

Sam McAlister, a BAFTA nominated former Newsnight producer, speaker and author of ‘Scoops’, gives you a backstage pass and a ringside seat to some of the most unforgettable TV moments of our times. We have Sam to thank for Prince Andrew’s infamous “I don’t sweat” Newsnight interview which was described by one leading royal commentator as ‘a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion’, Prince Andrew’s TV appearance became a textbook example of how not to do interviews. Sam has booked countless more jaw-droppers including Stormy Daniels, Sean Spicer, Steven Seagal, and Julian Assange. Her stories of mind-blowing secrets, outlandish requests, crazy riders and near-misses together reveal the lengths powerful go to to control their reputation, and the role of the press in piercing that veneer.

Session 3 – In conversation with Alastair Campbell

One-on-one conversation with James Harding

Alastair Campbell knows how media works. An accomplished writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as former British prime minister Tony Blair’s spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy. One-on-one with Tortoise editor-in-chief James Harding, Alastair will unpick how Westminster’s class of 2022 speaks to the electorate, and the world. Where are they going wrong, what are they getting right, and what should we watch out for in future Government communications, both formal and informal? How have the terms of engagement changed since the 00s, and what does this mean for truth, transparency and trust in politics?